We make and sell a line of alternative energy products directly to end users (customers). Historically, our web site gave info about the products and invited people to call and order. In addition, several online retailers buy the products from us at a discount and re-sell them for various prices; some identify the products as ours and some don’t. We recently entered the 21st century, up-dated our web site, and added the option to order the products online.
Now that we have the ability to sell on our web site, we’re more aware of the fact that our search engine ranking will affect how many people find our site first and buy from us directly rather than from one of the retailers. But that’s about all we know about SEO.
We’re batting this question around: Does it hurt or help our SEO that our products can be found on several sites? Some of the retailers use photos and text from our literature and/or web site- does this strengthen or weaken our SEO?
Jay’s Answer: Ignoring the search engine ranking – do you want more dealers to be reselling your products? What is the profit you make when a dealer purchases it vs. a consumer (don’t forget to include customer service, billing, shipping, etc.).
Each of your dealers is actually doing you a huge favor – they’re sales reps for your products. You’ve basically been the manufacturer and didn’t have to deal with the public much. They’ve been doing the advertising and customer service.
If you attempt to compete with them, you may be cannibalizing your sales (taking from the dealer and selling direct). This may in turn reduce the number of dealers/resellers wanting to compete with you.
That said, you asked about SEO. What you really want are customers buying from your website. So what you need to first do is figure out are what keywords are people using to find your (and your competitors’) products? Ignore your resellers (unless you find that one of them is extremely good at getting traffic, in which case you’ll be learning from them). Once you know how people are looking for you, then provide a website full of information. Not just your existing pictures and text. Lots of descriptions of how the products have been used. White papers comparing energy saved (and money, too). Online calculators to compute time of payback. Make your site an authority on your type of product. Now, for the dealers that will cooperate, have them link to your site. Publish your articles in various article banks online. Submit them to various consumer journals.
SEO is a small piece of a bigger picture. Focus on your marketing strategy for attracting customers. Everything else will take care of itself organically.